Green woodworking may bring to mind reclaimed lumber, eco-friendly tools, or non-petroleum based finished. That’s not quite the right idea, though. Green wood working is an art, specifically one that uses wood that isn’t dry or seasoned. It’s a common technique for building chairs, such as ladder-back or Windsor chairs and stools. Carving and basketmaking also utilize this technique. All products are made without the use of power. Here are some of the basics of this wood art.
Hand Tools for Green Woodworking
Instead of using high powered wood cutting tools, the sections of logs used in green woodworking are usually split with an ax. Some of the tools used include a froe, drawknives, and spokeshaves. Adzes, travishers, and inshaves are used to contour the wood. A pole lathe, powered by a foot pedal is used to turn spindles.
A Froe or Frow
Is a tool that splits wood along the grain. This l-shaped tool is used with a hammer. An edge of the blade is hammered into the end of a piece of green wood. Since it is put in the direction of the grain, the wood splits clean when the blade is twisted.
An Adz or Adze
Is used to smooth out a piece of wood. It’s used in a rather unique fashion, though. While straddling the piece of wood, the adz is swung downwards. It chips off pieces of wood, leaving a fairly smooth surface on the wood.
Is also known as a chair maker’s, bottomer’s shave, or a spoke shave. It’s slight curve runs from end to end and it’s most often used on Windsor seats.
A Pole Lathe
Is a rather unique tool. The treadle is pressed with your foot and it pulls a cord that is wrapped around the piece of wood stock. Some woodturners use a hand treade which is more difficult to use as only one hand is available to hold the chisel. The other end of the cord is attached to the end of a long pole. The work rotates one way and then the other way, allowing for turning in two directions. It does take a bit of experience to use this lathe properly.
When done properly, green woodworking is very eco-friendly. Traditional woodworking requires a lot of energy and non-renewable resources. Using a fresh log to create a beautiful piece of finished furniture is almost spiritual in nature. It’s difficult to reach this level of peace when you’re working with an electric planer buzzing in your ear. Since many of the green techniques use hand tools, the savings on energy is substantial, as well.
Learning the Craft
You may find it’s difficult to find an instructional program for this particular type of woodworking. There are courses available in some formal schools and by individuals. Most of these courses will focus on chair making or green woodturning. A quick search of the internet will provide you with some tips for learning this very impressive woodworking technique.
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